I've been on my fair share of interviews. And yet, I always find myself sitting on the floor beside my closet, a pile of clothes slumped over my lap, utterly stumped as to what to wear. I'm usually huffing and puffing about how ridiculous it is that women are expected to meet these unattainable standards of "pretty" but "not too pretty." Because, you know, you don't want to give the wrong impression — since our skirts say so much about our skills.
Listen, I'm all about adhering to professional standards and fitting the company culture. And I'm happy to comply; I've got a wardrobe of work-specific clothes that I enjoy wearing. I feel confident in them, and they give me the look of the professional I I want to be. But I'm not thrilled that women are expected to abide by some rules that are just systematically sexist. There, I said it. I'm talking about everything from the color of my nail polish down to makeup I put on my face — why that stuff matters as much as it does is beyond me. And I'm frankly tired of hearing how distractive women and girls can be — why aren't the distracted held to the same standards of professionalism and expected to, you know, stay focused on their work?
Perhaps it's because of my very first interview, when I wore my mother's (very conservative) dress and my interviewer told me I looked "naughty," that I'm forever plagued by the thralldom of "what if my outfit kills my chances?" And thanks to that, if I'm honest, at 26 years old, my mother is still usually on FaceTime going back and forth with a girlfriend sitting on my bed. They both help me narrow down the almost identical few black dresses.
After sometimes hours of deliberation I, nine times out of 10, go with the same dress. And then, at last, I get in bed and get back to researching the company, studying up on my interviewers and rehearsing my answers to common interview questions.
If you're like me, you could benefit from saving some time on trying on a million different outfits — time that could be better spent actually preparing for your interview. So I've rounded up six interview outfit "rules" you probably didn't know. I'm not saying you should abide by these rules (after all, it upsets me that some of them exist), but I am saying that they are worth knowing about in the often image-obsessed (and sexist) professional world we live in.
Wondering, what is the best color to wear to an interview? Like I'd figured, black is a good go-to color. According to 2017 research from SmartRecruiters, in tandem with Hiring Success, black was the safest choice of the surveyed 180 applicants who got hired. In fact, 70 percent of the hired candidates reported wearing mostly black outfits to interviews, while just 33 percent of the rejected candidates wore black.
Here's an all-black interview outfit, for example:
Here's some interview makeup, for example:
Here's some interview jewelry, for example:
This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of Fairygodboss.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist for a gamut of both online and print publications, as well as an adventure aficionado and travel blogger at HerReport.org. She covers all things women's empowerment — from navigating the workplace to navigating the world. She writes about everything from gender issues in the workforce to gender issues all across the globe.